With the state of emergency lockdown keeping us all cooped up inside, it seems there is one thing that is keeping people sane as they “do their time” at home with the superhero of the day being the all new Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

Physically leaving the house might be impossible right now, but you don’t need to actually remove yourself from the confines of your own 4 walls when you have the whole world of Animal Crossing at your fingertips. Escaping lockdown has never been easier, well, at least for those with a Nintendo Switch.

So what do you do when you haven’t got a Switch?

photo by Terri Bucknell, used with permission

With all electronics stores out of stock of Nintendo Switch, and the new game only available to play on the Switch console, you might be feeling a little left out when all of your friends are having a party in the virtual world. But fret not, as the release of the new game has also helped to revive another version of the anthropomorphic world; Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp.

Whilst you definitely need to own (and lug around) a Nintendo Switch console to move onto an island in New Horizons, if you have an iOS device or an Android at hand, Pocket Camp allows you to stretch your virtual legs without the need to spend more money on yet another gaming console or to carry any extra weight around.

Although not certainly the most up to date version of the game, with Pocket camp having first been released in 2017, it’s not far off from looking like New Horizons, and also doesn’t stray too far from the original Animal Crossing town concept.

in-game screenshot by Connie Sceaphierde

In the game the player becomes the camp leader of a particular campsite, which comes complete with a tent and camper van. As part of the gameplay, the player will be given a number of tasks which can range from crafting furniture, revamping your camp space, catching bugs and fish and meeting new animals.

There are a number of different locations that the player can visit, with each area hosting a range of different activities, for example, on Sunburst Island the player can focus on catching a variety of different bugs, and at Saltwater Shores the main activity sees the player catching saltwater fish.

A number of different animals camp out at the locations, and after the player meets them they can then grow their friendship levels in exchange for rewards and points. After the player's friendship with a certain animal hits a particular level, they can then invite their new friend back to their campsite and experience a variety of “memories” – short stories involving the friendships of the Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp characters.

As well as meeting some of the in-game animal characters, players can also meet and become friends with other real-life players in the game, and can even add their own friends via QR code. Unfortunately, this aspect of the game isn’t as fully rounded out as New Horizons, as there is no real interaction between players within Pocket Camp (other players will only appear standing still within the game), but you can still visit their campsite, explore their camper van and give them Kudos.

Each time the player levels up they can unlock new animals to meet, new locations on the map, access to services such as Pete’s delivery service and Gulliver’s Ship and new items that they can craft.

in-game screenshot by Connie Sceaphierde

Probably the best benefit of Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp that outweighs that of the new Animal Crossing: New Horizons, is that there is no need for a Nintendo Switch and that the game can be played on a regular iOS or Android system. Not only does this involve spending less in the long run but it also means there is less time spent learning new controls.

In addition to not needing to fork out money on a new game console (probably something which will get updated within a year or two, rendering the current version of New Horizons useless) Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is free to download. There are some parts of the game which can be purchased with real money such as the game’s currency; bells or leaf tickets, but these purchases are only really needed if the player wishes to speed up crafting times for items and apart from that, the full game is available at your fingertips for free.

So whilst everybody else is either spending money on a Nintendo Switch and the all-new Animal Crossing: New Horizons, or complaining that they can’t even pre-order the two for when stocks come back in, you could download Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp for free right now, escape to your own virtual campsite and begin partying the lockdown away!

By - Connie Sceaphierde.